10 Things I Learned By 21

I turned 21 last week, ladies and gentlemen, which means now it’s time to bestow my infinite wisdom and knowledge upon you. I’ve learned all there is to know, and I am a totally complete, self-actualized person. My brain doesn’t develop past 21, what are you talking about? But seriously, here are some fun facts I picked up. I love a good listicle, as I’m sure you know if you’ve been reading my pieces for any amount of time, so here goes.

Welcome to the school of hard knocks (aka my average, white, midwestern suburban upbringing). This was originally going to be 21 things I learned by 21, but it turns out I don’t actually know that many things.

  1. “For the bit” is sometimes not a good reason to do things.

Maybe things have to be smart choices as well as being funny, sometimes. It’s a fine line I’m still discerning, okay?

  1. “For the bit” is sometimes a perfectly good reason to do things.

This is the aforementioned fine line. There are totally situations in which doing something just because it’s funny is 100% the right choice. I’m not here to tell you what choice to make – just that it can go either way.

  1. If you’re a girl and don’t know a lot about cars, run things by someone who does.

I don’t know much about cars, and I have the appearance of a fifteen year-old girl. There are times when mechanics will take advantage of this and tell me my car is going to explode on the highway if I don’t give them $300 for an oil change right then and there. Do not underestimate the power of stepping out and calling your dad, or whoever you know who knows anything about cars, and repeating exactly what you’ve been told to find out if it’s true or not. Like, yeah, I could use an oil change. But I could do it myself in an hour, or for $200 less at a different shop two blocks away. Double-check that shit! 

  1. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”

This goes hand-in-hand with the above point. There’s no shame in not knowing something and having to ask someone or google or research. That’s what the information age is for, and this is especially important when it comes to things like politics. The internet really wants everyone to have a specific opinion on every possible issue at all times, which isn’t feasible and just creates more useless conflict. “I don’t know enough about that to have an opinion,” is a wonderful phrase.

  1. Put vodka in a spray bottle.

I’m serious. Spraying clothes down with vodka, or 1 part vodka 1 part water, will disinfect garments and kill odor. It’s what Broadway costumers use between shows so that they don’t have to wash every costume every single night, and it’s what I use on things too delicate to go in the washing machine. This is also super handy for thrifted clothes that you want to disinfect but don’t want to send to the dry cleaners, like corsets and jacket linings.

  1. Sign up for a rewards account.

Yeah, it’s annoying. But almost every store you go to has a rewards system of some kind, and I bet you already have tons of apps you barely use. You might as well get some sort of rewards back, especially on things you have to get, like food and gas. Did you know Hornbacher’s has a rewards app? Now you do. 

  1. Everyone knows something you don’t.

There is not a person on this Earth who doesn’t have something to teach me or you. Listen.

  1. Get an emotional support stuffed animal.

No one actually looks at you weird if you carry around a stuffed animal in public, and it’s done wonders for my mental health to carry around a stuffed toad whenever I don’t feel good. Most people are much too worried about how people perceive them to be putting a lot of work into perceiving and criticizing you. It’s everyone’s first time being alive, and it’s a lot more fun if you bring a stuffed animal to the grocery store sometimes. A lot of things that feel like social suicide simply are not, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

  1. Listen to albums in order.

I love the shuffle feature on Spotify just as much as the next guy, but artists also put songs in a certain order for a reason. If you haven’t before, go listen to your favorite album in order. The songs take on a new meaning in a new progression, and some of them even have sneaky little transitions into each other. Give it a try.

  1. Snacks.

Get ‘em! Carry ‘em around! Not only is this helpful to you (you have snacks and are less likely to pay double the price for a rice krispie bar at a gas station), but you never know when someone around you might need a snack. Have you ever whipped out a box of muffins in a car full of drunk people? In that moment, you are a superhero.

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